Community health education is the study of a community’s health characteristics. It focuses on protecting, improving, and promoting a healthy lifestyle and behavioral changes in any community. It seeks to identify, understand, and subsequently find solutions to health trends within a population. Awareness about community health is essential for positively influencing the health behavior of communities and different groups.
Following are some reasons why one should not overlook community health education:
- It reduces healthcare spending due to preventable illness and boosts a community’s economy.
- While addressing lifestyle factors such as physical activity, drug use, etc., community health education helps in positively influencing the health behavior of individuals and communities.
- It reduces adverse health outcomes by focusing on increasing health equity and prevention.
- It helps to spread awareness about mental health, injury and violence prevention, chronic diseases, and more.
What Are the Duties of a Health Educator?
A community health worker or a health educator promotes wellness and provides individuals and communities with recommendations on how to live healthier lives. Community health educators not only develop strategies to improve the overall health of the community but also implement them to promote individual well-being. In a time of severe health crises like the recent pandemic, the role of community health educators has become even more crucial. It has further expanded the scope for individuals pursuing an online general studies degree, which equips them with the skills required to be a community health worker. These health educators are responsible for providing the general public with health education materials and guiding them about preventable illness.
Let’s take a look at some of the crucial duties performed by a community health educator for promoting community well-being:
1. Works as Patient Navigator in Healthcare Facilities
Community health educators perform different duties depending on their work setting. A health educator working in a healthcare facility may work as a patient navigator as he or she directs patients to outside sources such as home health agencies for home-based care. Moreover, they also help families to understand their health insurance options and educate patients about their diagnosis and possible treatment options. Other duties that community health educators perform include helping to organize health screenings and assisting hospital efforts in administering surveys for identifying major health issues in the communities.
2. Helps Non-Profit Organizations for Creating Health Promotion Programs
Community health educators may also work side by side with various non-profit organizations to create programs regarding health issues in the community. They use their expertise and persuading skills to help such organizations raise funds and obtain other resources. Their primary duty is to improve public health by educating policymakers about ways to secure grant funding for programs to promote health awareness. They further focus on spreading awareness about specific diseases and preventative measures to stop their spread. In the present pandemic, community health educators play an extraordinary role in educating the masses about the virus and ways to prevent its spread in the community.
3. Educating Young Adults about a Healthy Lifestyle
Young adults may be more vulnerable to experiencing things such as alcohol use and smoking. That is why health educators play a vital role in creating materials and programs on topics such as these which easily and mainly affects the younger generation. They may also work to advocate and implement campus-wide policies to promote the community and individual well-being. A community health educator may also supervise peer health educators to evaluate how these students are delivering health information both in person and on social media.
4. Help Employers Deal with Common Health Problems in Workplace
A community health educator is responsible for educating people from all walks of life. This also includes helping employees in private businesses with common health problems and develop programs for health improvement. They may come up with programs or short activities within the workplace that can promote a healthy working environment for all employees. To encourage employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle, a health educator may also develop healthy behavior incentives for employees such as quitting smoking, controlling cholesterol, and so on.
5. Administering Public Health Campaigns
Apart from identifying health-related issues faced by the community and collecting data, a community health educator may also work with different public health departments. They can play a significant role in such departments by administering public health campaigns on pressing issues faced by the community. These topics may include stress management, emergency preparedness, proper nutrition, or immunization.
When it comes to providing safety information to the communities during emergencies, a community health educator proves to be instrumental in handling such situations. Other notable duties they perform in public health departments include helping to create public policies to support healthy environments and may also oversee grant-funded programs for public health improvement.
Educating the community about common health problems and how to deal with them is crucial for promoting improved public health. Community health educators are playing a pivotal role in educating different groups and communities on various platforms on how to live healthier lives. Such individuals are incredibly important, especially for vulnerable communities, as people need a credible source of information when it comes to health issues.
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